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Popes John XXIII and John Paul II: Extraordinary Legacies of Promoting Dignity

Apr 25, 2014
Tessa M. Winkler

This Sunday, April 27th, we join the global celebration of the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.  In this historic moment, we witness the sainthood of spiritual leaders who embodied the Church’s most dearly held values.  Popes John XXIII and John Paul II worked tirelessly for vulnerable groups and shared the timeless principles of human dignity, family unity, and solidarity on behalf of at-risk migrants. 

Popes John Paul II and John XXIII spoke extensively about the dignity of the human person, including that of the undocumented immigrant. “His irregular legal status cannot allow the migrant to lose his dignity,” Blessed John Paul II warned, “since he is endowed with inalienable rights, which can neither be violated nor ignored.” 

Blessed John XXIII said "Now among the rights of a human person there must be included that by which a man may enter a political community where he hopes he can more fittingly provide a future for himself and his dependents.”  Our Catholic tradition and the words of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II call the universal Church to take responsibility for our neighbors and respect the human dignity of migrants.

 “In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere,” Blessed John Paul II said.  As a nation and a Church of migrants, our faith compels us to stand in solidarity with newcomers.  “Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble,” Blessed John Paul II said, “It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community.”

As the world-wide celebration of Popes John XXIII’s and John Paul II’s canonization takes place, we reflect on the lives led by these holy shepherds and recognize their extraordinary legacies on behalf of promoting the human dignity of all.  We pray that their words inspire our affiliates, communities, and representatives to action that more fully welcomes our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

*Tessa M. Winkler is Public Education Officer at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.